Monday, June 04, 2007

George, meet Woodrow

George Bush As Woodrow Wilson: Caroline Glick makes the argument in the Jerusalem Post. Who knew?

There are many differences between the Bush and Wilson administrations, but three stand out in particular. First, by ignoring the real interests of the US and its allies in favor of utopian peace, Wilson's vision of postwar peace was a flight of fancy predicated on a rejection of reality. In contrast, by recognizing the threat that the global jihad constitutes for the Free World, Bush sought to shake the US and its allies out of their collective flight from reality in the 1990s and force them to contend with the world as it is.

But while Wilson's vision was unrealistic, he has to be credited for his unstinting devotion to it. In contrast, Bush never completely matched his visionary rhetoric to his actual policies. And today, increasingly abandoned by his supporters and undermined by his own advisers who reject his vision and insist on returning to fantasyland, Bush has apparently abandoned his own doctrine of war and peace.

The core of Glick's argument is that while President Bush went for the Big Brass Ring on the War on Terror he lacked the determination to see it through. And nothing is worse than making a leap you can't cover or starting anything you can't finish because the price of falling short of an ambitious program is falling flat on your face. And that, Glick suggests, is what has happened. Discouraged, President Bush has become too gun-shy to try anything and is retreating into the comforts of diplomacy, however futile these might be.

Leaving aside the question of whether Caroline Glick was right or wrong, it does not materially change her argument to use the replace "George Bush" with US polity. As John Edwards and Barack Obama pointedly emphasized in the Democrat Presidential debates, many of the Democrats had bought into the then wildly popular notion of bringing Democracy to the Middle East. And while GWB may have now be discouraged, it is only fair to point out that the Democrats were the first to fall away. First by dribbles and then in wholesale stampede.

Widening the definition of just is discouraged is important because it would be good to anticipate how the US political system will behave after GWB leaves office, a date which is looming increasingly closer. Will the US embrace "delusion" as Caroline Glick puts it, or with GWB gone, will it chart another course?

My own guess is that it will pretty much muddle along with an effort that is not wholly wasted, because field experience can never be completely ignored, but not quite decisive either. In any event it will not achieve strategic clarity again until some some sudden or cumulative catastrophe strikes either the US or some other part of the West. It's sad but natural. People learn to drive carefully only after they wrapped their car around a tree. One only hopes they eventually recover to gain wisdom from disaster.

Update

One interesting example of delusion is was pinpointed by Tigerhawk.

See, for example, Nora Ephron's latest post over at the HuffPo -- "How To Foil A Terrorist Plot In Seven Simple Steps" -- and the many approving comments appended thereto. The "Ephronist" branch of the left wing apparently believes that we should not "entrap" potential terrorists. In other words, treating terrorism as a problem of law enforcement means that we should investigate and prosecute terrorists only after a successful attack. No interdiction allowed.

One commenter at Tigerhawk responded by adding: "your point is driven home today with Joe Biden's latest OP-Ed in the WSJ (either this weekend or today - I read them on a plane this morning.) As you read his commentary it is apparent that he is trying to talk tough on those States that would provide nuclear arms to terrorists, but only after one has been detonated on our soil." Another comments: "Our misadventure in Iraq provides the left with all the ammunition they need stifle future military responses to terrorism, Islamic or otherwise. Had we concentrated on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and discrete targets elsewhere, we wouldn't be subject to the drivel you refer to." That misadventure, if indeed it is, by historical terms would be one of the least costly in US history. Something else is going on here. Current society has become risk and failure averse. It wants instant results and will settle for nothing less. Osama Bin Laden understands this and it is part of his strategic calculation. And I'm bound to say, the man's right.

5 Comments:

Blogger Derek Kite said...

Crime prevention always comes down to the old joke 'how to survive if pursued by a man-eating tiger? Run faster than your companion'. If someone wants to do break and entries, make your house the least attractive target. Lock your car doors, they will find one unlocked.

When massively destructive attacks are the currency of terrorists, nuclear, biological, this strategy is questionable. Maybe Chicago should feel good because New York got it last time.

Derek

6/04/2007 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard, I think you are missing the big issues here.

Western Liberalism has decided that Nationalism, defense of the Nation, and indeed the ordinary person are all loathsome things beneath a true citizen of the World and high-status person.

Meanwhile Osama has found Jihad and Islamism as a way to create a multinational, organized, effective, and downward authority culture that is both a "brand" and an effective Venture Capital style organization.

Very likely, the elites in the US will force fantasy, a return to 9/10, and no serious effort to fight AQ. Surrender in Iraq and Afghanistan are assured if a Dem wins. Their base is insane, believe that GWB not bin Laden pulled off 9/11.

Then, there will be a loss of a city or three. A Dem President will make sure the first responders have everything they need, and maybe, if pressed, a few futile cruise missile strikes.

Until of course the mob comes.

To me the story is: the Western Elites despise and condemn the ordinary man while supporting those who attack him (even if it's bin Laden). While bin Laden has found Allah to be the dynamite to break apart tribalism to create dangerously effective organizations.

Why does Nora Ephron despise the JFK plot arrests? Because only the little people, the "little Eichmans" would have been killed. No one important.

Naturally, the Mob will insist on simply killing any enemy around. Preemptively.

6/04/2007 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger JM Hanes said...

Who knew? The Captain knew! Scroll down a few paragrphs to start reading at: "The parallels with Wilson are rather striking...."

6/05/2007 02:59:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 06/05/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

6/05/2007 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger R said...

I read Hoffer's work on the True Believer years ago. Also, The Ordeal of Change. For some years now I have been telling my friends that we are watching a world wide mass movement evolving. I've opined that in most of the pictures of muslim leaders (that I have seen) they're scowling, wearing dark, somewhat sinister clothing.

I've thought how President Bush lost his national voice and wondered why. I have listened to the Democrats constantly bitch like that wife who can never stop heckling her husband, or the hysterical patient that Freud dreaded to treat.

My narcissistic generation really wants no part of this war against terrorism. They already escaped from fighting in their youth over in Asia. "Do your own thing" has come home, only in another, more unpleasant fashion.

We can't even show on television people leaping to their deaths on 911 from the World Trade Center buildings! Nor do we see how Nick Berg lost his head! Just too graphic.

There have been more than 3000 funerals of American military personnel where family members grieve. Thousands of our young people visit VA hospitals hoping their injuries heal more completely.

As a kid I had fun booing the visiting team at Yankee Stadium while waiting for the Mick to come out and bat. Today, America is the visiting team; we're booed at every opportunity, or so it seems. At least that is what our media constantly presents to us.

My America is bad? Sorry, I just don't buy into this line of crap.

I also think a religion where its leaders only make statements that "the infidel must convert or die" is an evil religion. Seems like a great place for quasi intellects to hide and practice their hatred.

I don't see a sticker on my local gas pumps saying: "Here's some free gas for helping the Iraqi people achieve the opportunity for freedom!" I often wonder when the Iraqis, the Palestinians, et al. will truly tire of living a life driven by hatred. The first thing evil does when it has won is kill all and everyone who was against it. No mercy, just killing.

I know evil when I see it. I first saw this muslim evil years ago when an old man in a small room was interviewed on French soil plotting the overthrow of Iran's leadership. Jimmy Carter should not sleep well in my opinion. He should be praying for the souls that this evil has taken, from all walks of life, from everywhere on this earth.

Americans should be tired of the masochistic mentality as displayed toward this looming mass movement; driven and controlled by terrorists; supported by castrated little boys hiding in the robes of an evil religion where they offer the notion of peace...after all the infidels have been dealt with as they deem rightful and just.

Will you be at a funeral mourning someone who died as a result of this evil?

Don't think such a reality will come into your neighborhood...soon? Waiting for your wake up call from Jesus? Or Al Gore? This last democratic debate: Were there any veterans on that stage who want to be president? Veterans who took an oath to die if necessary for their country. Lawyers, lawyers everywhere...they will tell us the truth, right? Like they really know after a visit to Gitmo!

Rodney King had it right. If there is one thing the Bible offers, it may just be that life is not about me...it is about how I choose to become a part of something much bigger than me.

We are now experiencing such a struggle on this planet, our home.
Hopefully, true leaders will come to help us transition away from the hatreds that have lived too long.

Most often though, blood gets spilled, destruction rules the day till one side of the quarrel tires and surrenders. I hope it's not us. We're not evil. I am not evil.

My heart is not filled with hatred for others. I learned that a long time ago, when I wore a military uniform and learned that peace is much better than war! Much better!

6/05/2007 02:50:00 PM  

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